IBS Newsletter

October 2001

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado


Congratulations to David N. Pellow who received the 2001 Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism from the American Sociological Association, Environment and Technology Section. The award is for his forthcoming book: Garbage Wars: Environmental Justice Struggles in Chicago, 1880-2000. 2002. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Dennis S. Mileti received the International Conference of Structural Safety and Reliability’s Award for Research, which is given once every four years to one recipient for research that has the potential to impact structural safety.  He received the award and presented his lecture, “Disasters by Design: Linking Hazards Mitigation to Sustainable Development” at their 8th annual conference in Newport Beach, California on June 21.

Institute News

On September 26, about 50 IBSers gathered to hear “Behavioral Science Perspectives on the Current Crisis: What can social sciences tell us about the bombings of September 11 and their consequences.” Presenters were Jane Menken, Richard Jessor, Dennis S. Mileti, and Elizabeth C. Dunn and moderated by Gilbert F. White. In the next IBS Newsletter there will be an in-depth article. A hearty thanks to those giving the presentations, those who attended, and to Thomas Mayer for organizing the event.

Program Activities

Environment and Behavior Program

On August 18-21, Lori M. Hunter (with Jeannette Sutton) presented “Rural-Out Migration as Related to the Introduction of Hazardous Facilities” at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Anaheim, California.

In Print

Smith, Michael D., Richard S. Krannich, and Lori M. Hunter. 2001. “Growth, Decline, Stability and Disruption: A Longitudinal Analysis of Social Well-Being in Four Western Rural Communities.” Rural Sociology. 66(3), pp. 425-450. During the 1970s and 1980s, social scientists focused considerable attention on patterns of community change in boomtowns affected by large-scale energy resource development in the western United States. The resulting literature has provided inconsistent and relatively inconclusive evidence about the extent of various forms of social disruption caused by the rapid economic and demographic changes associated with such developments. In particular, because of a lack of in-depth longitudinal research, little is known about the degree to which social problems observed during rapid growth periods in such locations may persist after the boom. This research addresses some of those questions through a longitudinal examination of various dimensions of social well being in four western rural communities. Community surveys conducted four times across a 13-year span provide data on patterns of change for ten distinct indicators of social well being. Results show that although social disruptions occur in several dimensions of well being during boom periods, not all dimensions appear to be affected by such growth. Also, when boom-induced declines in well being occur, they are consistently followed by a sharp rebound, with no evidence of lasting disruption.

Natural Hazards Center

The Natural Hazards Center, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation, has expanded its mission to fund Quick Response social and behavioral science research into disasters to include studies of the aftermath of the September 11, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC. As of September 25, the Center had funded 17 different research projects and anticipates receiving another half-dozen or so requests.

On September 3-7, David Butler of the Natural Hazards Center was co-moderator and speaker at a Regional Meeting on Information Exchange for Disaster Reduction held at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, Bangkok, Thailand. Sponsored by the European Commission Humanitarian Office, the meeting brought together representatives from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and Indonesia to discuss ways to better integrate disaster knowledge and other resources in Southeast Asia. The conference was part of the larger “Partnerships for Disaster Reduction–Southeast Asia” project sponsored by the European Commission.

Sarah Michaels, the Center’s “Information Architect” for the past two years has resigned her position effective September 30. Wanda Headley who has worked part time for the Center for the last two years will be the Center’s new “Library Manager” and be responsible for the Center’s “Information Services” program. She received a BA in history and geography from CU last spring.

Dennis S. Mileti presented the keynote speech “The Future of Natural Hazards and Sustainable Development in the United States” to the Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers in Steamboat Springs on September 19. This speech provided insights into linking engineered approaches with systemic holistic approaches to addressing the human environment relationship.

Mileti was appointed to the Steering Committee for the Evaluation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The first meeting was held on August 29, in Washington, DC. The committee will oversee and comment on the evaluation of the NFIP that was called for in the recommendation of the Second Assessment of Research and Applications on Natural Hazards.  He was also appointed to the Advisory Board of the project “Earthquake Risk Decision-making in Lifeline Organizations.” Funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the California Department of Transportation, the project will systematically assess decision making in utilities and transportation organizations as it regards earthquake risk mitigation actions. The first meeting was on September 5 in San Francisco, California.

Natural Hazards Center

In Print

The Second Assessment of Research and Applications on Natural Hazards was completed in 1999. This project, headed by Mileti, resulted in many products including a series of books published by the Joseph Henry Press of the National Academy of Sciences. The last two books from the Assessment have just been made available by the press: Tierney, Kathleen J.,Michael K. Lindell, and Ronald W. Perry. 2001. Facing the Unexpected: Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States. 300 pp. In this book, the authors present a wealth of information derived from disasters that have occurred around the world over the past 25 years. The authors explore how these findings can improve disaster programs, identify remaining research needs, and discuss disasters within the broader context of sustainable development. Focusing on social, cultural, and economic factors that shape vulnerability to disasters, they examine key questions regarding today’s catastrophes and review the influences that have shaped the U.S. system for disaster planning and response at all levels. They also compare technological and natural disasters and examine the impact of technology on disaster programs.

Cutter, Susan L. (Ed.). 2001. American Hazardscapes: The Regionalization of Hazards and Disasters. 250 pp. This book examines the risks associated with living and owning property in diverse regions across the United States and offers dual perspectives: that of the geographer and that of the social science hazards researcher. Well-illustrated with numerous maps and figures, the book summarizes what we already know about regional patterns of hazards events and losses during the previous three decades and goes further to shed light on the nature of the events themselves and their impact on society.

Population Processes Program

In Print

Rogers, Richard G., Rebecca Rosenblatt, Robert A. Hummer, and Patrick M. Krueger. 2001. “Black-White Differentials in Adult Homicide Mortality in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly. 82(3), pp. 435-452. This lead article examines individual level black-white differences in adult homicide mortality. Homicide is a major social problem and a central cause of preventable death in the United States. A homicide not only claims one life prematurely, but can also devastate a family, friends, and a neighboring community. We link eight consecutive years of the National Health Interview Survey (1987-1994) to the Multiple Cause of Death file through the National Death Index (1987-1997), and use Cox proportional hazard models to examine the role of social factors in black-white homicide mortality in the United States. We find that individual level sociodemographic characteristics—age, sex, marital status, education, employment status, and geographic factors—explain almost 35% of the racial differences in homicide mortality. These results demonstrate the contributions that National Center for Health Statistics data can make to criminological literature and reveal the mechanisms through which blacks experience higher homicide mortality than whites. Such illumination can lead to a reduction in the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Pampel, Fred C. and John B. Williamson. September, 2001. “Age Patterns of Suicide and Homicide Mortality Rates in High-Income Nations.” Social Forces, 80(1), pp. 251-282.  In most nations, suicide rates tend to increase and homicide victimization rates tend to decrease with age, but the degree of increase and decrease varies over time and across nations. In particular, some nations more than others show a worsening of youth lethal violence relative to older age groups. This age variation across nations and time in both forms of lethal violence may result from (1) the sizes of youth and elderly age groups, and the disadvantages and advantages, respectively, that size brings; (2) family changes that most harm younger, more recent cohorts; and (3) sociopolitical dimensions of equality that smooth the transition to adulthood. Using aggregate data on 18 nations over the period from 1955 to 1994, the analysis examines how these determinants affect measures of suicide and homicide rates among the young relative to older ages. In support of the theoretical arguments, the results show that deviations from the general increase in suicide with age and decrease in homicide with age relate as predicted to measure of demographic, family, and sociopolitical institutions.

Problem Behavior Program

In Print

Abrams, Margaret L., Joanne Belknap, and Heather C. Melton. 2001. When Domestic Violence Kills: The Formation and Findings of the Denver Metro Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee. Project Safeguard Publication: Denver, CO. 92 pp. (Can also be downloaded from the Web at: http://www.projectsafeguard.org

Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence

On September 18, Delbert S. Elliott visited Centennial High School in Ft. Collins to review their program for inclusion in recommendations for Safe Schools Programs. Centennial High School’s program empowers students to control their own destiny and their life within systems.  On September 24-25, he attended the 8th Annual Family Strengths Conference in Sacramento, California, which was sponsored by the California Department of Social Services. He made the keynote presentation “Family-Based Violence Prevention and Intervention Programs: What Works, What Doesn’t” and chaired the workshop on “Identifying Family Based Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Violence.” He made a presentation with Attorney General Ken Salazar at Poudre Valley School District in Ft. Collins at their Building Crisis Response Team Prevention Training on September 27. Their keynote speech focused on “Colorado Prevention Efforts.” Jane Grady and Diane Hansen presented on Safe Communities—Safe Schools (SCSS) and Blueprints for Violence Prevention. Landa Heys hosted a CSPV exhibit.

On August 1, Rhonda Ntepp and Officer Lou Dixon, SCSS coordinator for Ranum High School, presented at the National Conference of School Resource Officers in Breckenridge. The SCSS initiative was discussed, as well as the goals that schools should set for forming a task force to create an individual schools crisis management plan.

Grace Taylor, Ph.D. is a new addition to the Center’s SCSS Initiative. She is the new Project Director of the Initiative and will be involved extensively with the research and evaluation. The purpose of the study was to survey a random sample of 1000 Colorado teachers to examine the effects of standards on instruction and test-related practices. To view the report, please visit the Web site: http://education.colorado.edu/epic/coloradostudiesandreports.htm.


Social Science Data Analysis Center

Norton AntiVirus Software Available for IBS Computers: IBS has purchased a pool of licenses for Norton AntiVirus software that should be installed on all personal computers in IBS.  If you don't already have antivirus software, send an e-mail to ibshelp@colorado.edu to arrange for installation. The licensing arrangement allows users to install Norton AntiVirus software on a single home machine in addition to an office machine. See http://www.sarc.com for more information about Norton AntiVirus and news about the latest virus threats.

Automated Backup Service Available for IBS Computers: IBS users can have selected files or directories automatically backed up to a central server. We recommend that this service supplement your existing backup procedures so those critical files are backed up in more than one physical location. If you would like to take advantage of this service send an e-mail to: ibshelp@colorado.edu.

Qualitative Data Analysis Workshop: In cooperation with the Social Science Data Lab in Ketchum, SSDAC is sponsoring a workshop/demonstration in using NUD*IST (Non-numeric Unstructured Data, Indexing Searching Theorizing). This is software that helps to analyze raw textual data, including interview transcripts, focus group transcripts, hearings, newspaper articles, journal articles, and other written documents. NUD*IST goes beyond basic word counts and content analysis, allowing you to identify and track the context surrounding certain keywords. Heidi Berggren of Political Science will be teaching it on Tuesday, October 30, from 2-5 pm in Ketchum, Room 117. Please contact Jani Little (jani.little@colorado.edu) if you want to register. YOU MUST REGISTER in order to participate, and seating is limited.

Analyzing Data with Splus: Splus is now available in the SSDAC computer lab. It is an object-oriented, statistical programming language that is well suited for exploring and Social Science Data Analysis Center visualizing data. Splus is especially popular among professional academic statisticians, who often use it to implement cutting-edge statistical techniques. Some of these techniques such as spatial statistics and multilevel models are not yet available in other statistical packages. A three-hour workshop offered by Bill Oliver of Information Technology Services, will introduce the basic syntax of Splus explaining how to analyze and visualize data. The Splus workshop is scheduled for Friday, October 26 from 2-5 pm at the Stadium, Room 350. Contact Bill Oliver at oliver@colorado.edu to register.

In Focus

Relationships between Institutions, Expectations, and Markets

David A. Leblang, Assistant Professor of Political Science, is a Faculty Research Associate in the Research Program on Political and Economic Change.. He received his B.A. in philosophy and political science from Florida State University in 1988 and his Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University in 1993. Prior to joining the Political Science Department at CU-Boulder in 2000, he taught at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas and at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

My research interests in political economy focus on the relationship between institutions, expectations, and markets. Presently this general interest is played out in research on two major topics: the interaction between political expectations and market behavior and the relationship between policy commitments and institutional choices.

My first major research program (with William Bernhard of the University of Illinois) is concerned with understanding if and how economic actors respond to politics. Specifically we ask (i) what is the nature of political information, (ii) aside from elections, do economic actors form political expectations on the basis of other types of events or institutions, and (iii) do markets care. While traditional work in the area of the political business cycle focuses on ideology and electoral politics and their influence on unemployment and inflation, Bernhard and I expand both the notion of politics and the nature of the economy. For the most part we examine currency markets and have worked to understand how speculators use political information in both spot and forward markets. In another set of papers Bernhard and I examine periods of “potential political change”—periods when economic actors may be uncertain about the future course of government policy. We argue that during these periods the variance of currency forecasts will be greater when compared to periods when there is little or no uncertainty. We are presently extending this work on political expectations and market behavior in two ways. First, we are working to develop models of political information. While the economics literature has gone far in explaining how and why market actors have “rational expectations” when it comes to predicting the path of economic variables, political science is far from having a cohesive set of “facts” about political information. Why is it that there is so much uncertainty surrounding certain elections but not others? Why do some political institutions provide clear signals while others obfuscate? The second extension of our work concerns the reciprocal relationship between political and economic information. We are developing a model that can be used to see how exchange rate volatility affects political information (as measured by opinion polls) and how political information affects exchange rate volatility.

The second major research program that I am engaged in focuses on the origin of economic policy choice and the affect of these policies on economic performance. This work began in my dissertation where I examined the influence of property rights, democratic institutions, political capacity, and political culture on economic growth. Subsequent work on institutional choices led me to investigate the reasons why policymakers choose different types of international policy commitments. I have written a number of papers on the political determinants of capital controls and exchange rate regime choice focusing on the nature of electoral rules and the incentives these rules provide to politicians. These papers argue, generally, that institutional choice so far as international economic policy is concerned, reflects the electoral incentives of politicians. This conclusion separates my work from existing studies, especially in the economics literature, that sees policy choice as a consequence of policymakers maximizing some exogenously determined social welfare function.

I am extending this interest in policy choice in two ways. First, I am working on a collaborative project with Thomas Willett (Claremont Graduate University) entitled “The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Regimes: Managing the Middle in an Era of Global Capital.” The extant literature from the economics profession argues that increased capital mobility has made middle exchange rate regimes (e.g., managed pegs, adjustable pegs, etc.) vulnerable to speculative attack and has forced policymakers to the extremes of a free float or complete dollarization. We argue, first, that the vulnerability of middle exchange rate regimes differs according to the ability of policymakers to implement consistent domestic macroeconomic policies. Second, we believe (and will test) that conclusions regarding the move to floating or dollarized exchange rate regimes result from poor measures of exchange rate behavior.

My interest in institutional commitments manifests itself in my current project: I am beginning work on a project tentatively called International Economic Policy during the Three Waves of Democracy. This project seeks to understand the political underpinnings of a policymaker’s decision among a fixed exchange rate, capital mobility, and independent monetary policy. I have done quite a bit of work on this choice for developed and developing countries during the post-Bretton Woods period and am now working my way backward to 1880. I make the argument that adherence to the Classical Gold Standard and to gold during the interwar period required political subordination of domestic pressures (ideological, labor, etc.). I argue that the transition to democratic institutions, the adoption of proportional representation electoral systems, and the expansion of suffrage placed pressures on policymakers that made adherence to gold politically undesirable.

Funding Opportunities

The CU-Boulder Outreach Committee is announcing a call for Outreach Proposals for funding qualified lectures, workshops, or exhibits, which faculty are actively engaged in as well as teaching and research, which will benefit communities statewide.  The Committee’s guidelines are available at http://www.colorado.edu/conted/outreachguidelines.htm. The Committee weighs heavily factors such as serving K-12 audiences and communities of minority ethnicity. The CU 4 K-12 web site offers further information and can be viewed at: http://www.colorado.edu/cu4k12. Applications are due October 17 for outreach activities scheduled between November 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002.

Research Proposals Funded

Population Processes Program

Menken, J. Population Aging Center: University of Whitewatersrand sub-contract
NIA 07/01/01 – 06/30/02 cont


Environment and Behavior Program

Mileti, D. Learning from the tragedy: Supplementing Quick Response research
NSF 09/17/01 – 09/16/02 supp


Mileti, D. Clearinghouse on natural hazards research applications (year 2)
NSF 10/01/01 – 09/30/02 cont


Research Proposals Submitted

Problem Behavior Program

Bryan, A. Gender and HIV risk among adjudicated adolescents
HHS 04/01/02 – 08/31/06 new


Population Processes Program

Rogers, R. Collaborative research: Religious involvement and adult mortality in the US
NSF 04/01/02 – 03/31/04 new


Upcoming Colloquia

There is an online listing of upcoming and recent colloquia.

Institute of Behavioral Science

Jane Menken, Institute Director

IBS Newsletter

Julie Klauss and Sugandha Brooks, Co-editors
Richard L. Cook, Web Site Coordinator

Institute of Behavioral Science
University of Colorado at Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0483

(303) 492-8147